New Study Shows Self-Repairing Teeth Could Become the Norm in the Future

King's College London scientists have found further positive evidence that our teeth could repair themselves.
Fabienne Lang

Rarely does the sentence "I have to go to the dentist" evoke much enthusiasm. However, a team of scientists at King's College London (KCL) in the UK has found further proof that our teeth could self-repair. 

The team has been investigating a method of stimulating natural tooth repair through the activation of cells in the tooth that makes new dentine. 

Their findings were published in the Journal of Dental Research on Tuesday.


A clinical approach

Our teeth have three layers, and each of these layers can be affected by decay or trauma. These layers are the outer enamel, dentin — the middle section that works as a protector to the inside of the tooth —, and the inner part of the tooth that's the soft dental pulp. 

It's vital to keep all three layers healthy.

Previous research discovered that a drug called Tideglusib helped to protect that inner layer by stimulating the production of dentin (the middle section), which ultimately led the tooth to repair itself naturally. 

In an effort to continue testing the drug's viability on patients, over the past five years, the KCL team has been looking into whether enough volume of dentine could be produced to repair cavities in human teeth.

They've further looked into the drug's range and safety, and if the mineral composition of the reparative dentin is similar to that which we produce naturally as humans, and whether or not it's strong enough to maintain the strength of the tooth. 

Professor Paul Sharpe, lead author of this research and Dickinson Professor of Craniofacial Biology at KCL, and his team have discovered that their study does indeed show further positive evidence that the method could be used in clinical practice. 

The team discovered that the repair area is restricted to pulp cells in the immediate area of repair and that it was significantly different from that of the bone. Moreover, they discovered that the drug can activate repair in an area of dentin damage up to ten times larger, essentially mimicking the size of small cuts in humans. 

Professor Sharpe stated "In the last few years we showed that we can stimulate natural tooth repair by activating resident tooth stem cells. This approach is simple and cost-effective. The latest results show further evidence of clinical viability and bring us another step closer to natural tooth repair." 

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